Digital competence frameworks in Europe

Digital literacy is 'at the convergence of multiple literacies'. An EU project sets out to map the key digital competence frameworks in use across the EU.

Digital competence is a lifelong skill

Digital literacy is closely aligned to information, media and ICT literacy.  In 2006 the European Union recognised 'Digital competence' as one of the eight key competencies for lifelong learning.  Digital competence impacts employment (and employability), learning, leisure and social inclusion.

As part of a digital competence project, the EC's Joint Research Centre has published a report mapping 15 relevant competency frameworks that are currently available across Europe.   

Definitions of digital competence

The majority of the frameworks analysed in the report include their own definition of digital competencies.  These have been used to create an overall definition.  Digital competence is:

 "...the set of knowledge, skills, attitudes ... required when using ICT and digital media to perform tasks; solve problems; communicate; manage information; collaborate; create and share content; and build knowledge effectively, efficiently, appropriately, critically, creatively, autonomously, flexibly, ethically, reflectively for work, leisure, participation, learning, socialising, consuming, and empowerment".

Areas of competence

The competency frameworks reviewed include ones created by ECDL, BECTA and UNESCO.  Many frameworks focus on a specific set of tools or applications but this report highlights seven broad areas of competence that it feels should be covered in the definition of digital competence. These are the ability to:

  • Identify, locate, access, retrieve, store and organise information
  • Link with others, participate in online networks and communities
  • Communicate through online tools, taking into account privacy, safety and netiquette
  • Integrate and re-elaborate previous knowledge and content, construct new knowledge
  • Behave in an ethical and responsible way, aware of legal frameworks
  • Identify digital needs, solve problems, assess information retrieved
  • Use technology and media, perform tasks using digital tools

The full report is available here.